Every Italian to play for Arsenal - ranked

  • There have been just four Italians to play for Arsenal
  • Jorginho has already enjoyed the most success
  • Gunners aiming to sign Riccardo Calafiori this summer
Jorginho is one of just a few Italians to represent the Gunners
Jorginho is one of just a few Italians to represent the Gunners / Visionhaus/GettyImages

Italy isn't a nation Arsenal Football Club has a deep relationship with.

Sure, there have been memorable triumphs over the country's giant clubs - think the 5-1 win over Inter in 2003 and 2-0 victory over Juventus three years later - but the footballing exports from the land of catenaccio have arrived in mere dribs and drabs in north London.

In truth, Italians are generally more hesitant than players from other major nations to depart their homeland.

The Premier League has nonetheless welcomed some majestic talent from the boot of Europe, most notably Gianfranco Zola at the end of the 90s and infamously Mario Balotelli at the start of the 2010s. There have been just over 80 Italians to ply their trade in the English top flight, and very few have represented the three-time Premier League champions.

Here's are ranking of the four Italians to play for Arsenal.

4. Emiliano Viviano

Soccer : FA Cup Third Round - Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur
Viviano never played for Arsenal / Matthew Ashton/GettyImages

Now 38, goalkeeper Viviano is still going with Ascoli in Serie C - the third tier of Italian football. The veteran shot-stopper enjoyed a fine journeyman career in his homeland, and would rank higher on this list if we weren't basing it solely off their work for the Gunners.

Arsenal signed Viviano on loan ahead of the 2013/14 season but would serve as third choice behind Wojciech Szczesny and Lukasz Fabianski. The two Poles monopolised all the game time that season, with Viviano departing at the end of his loan having failed to play a competitive game for the club.

He would then enjoy a four-year spell in Serie A with Sampdoria as their number one before moving overseas. He has six caps for his country - but none since 2011.

3. Arturo Lupoli

Arturo Lupoli, Graham Stack
Lupoli made just one Premier League appearance for the Gunners / Richard Heathcote/GettyImages

Acquired from Parma off the back of a prolific season with their U17s in 2003/04, striker Lupoli proved too good for the club's reserves but failed to find his feet at the highest level.

The precocious forward never made the grade in north London despite a relatively bright start to his senior career which saw him score twice against Everton in a League Cup game on 9 November 2004.

Lupoli scored 27 times in 32 games at youth/reserve level that season, but Arsene Wenger's world-class options in attacking areas meant the young Italian was always going to find it hard to get a proper look in.

The striker scored again in a cup game the following season but would end his Arsenal career having made just one Premier League appearance. He subsequently enjoyed a decent loan spell at Derby County, but would quickly drift into obscurity after returning home in 2007 as he joined Fiorentina - for whom he never played a game.

2. Vito Mannone

Vito Mannone
Mannone once harboured hopes of being Arsenal's number one / Alex Livesey/GettyImages

Arsenal may have had a thing for reserve Italian goalkeepers...

Viviano has undoubtedly had a more impressive career than Mannone, but the brutish shot-stopper, who'd go on to play for Sunderland, spent seven years in north London having arrived from Atalanta in 2005.

Mannone functioned as the club's third-choice goalkeeper for much of his time at the Emirates, only making 15 Premier League appearances. He did rise to prominence during the 2009/10 campaign, deputising for Manuel Almunia, and the towering Italian generally impressed between the sticks after a shaky start.

He kept a string of clean sheets in the autumn and particularly impressed in a 1-0 win over Fulham at Craven Cottage in September 2009. Wenger opted to retain Mannone as the club's number one when Almunia returned to full fitness, and the Italian would sign a long-term extension at the start of 2010 - pointing towards a bright future with the Gunners.

However, the number one status he craved never arrived and after enjoying loan spells in the second tier, Mannone was back to being third choice in 2011/12 and left the club permanently in 2013.

1. Jorginho

Jorginho has provided veteran leadership since joining the club / Marc Atkins/GettyImages

Jorginho certainly wasn't the club's first-choice option during the 2023 January transfer window. The title-chasing Gunners wanted Moises Caicedo to bolster their midfield engine room, but when Brighton wouldn't budge over their lofty asking price, Arsenal pivoted to the Chelsea veteran.

Signed for a bargain £12m fee, Jorginho has played an unsung role for the club over the past 18 months. He's never been regarded as first choice, but has enjoyed runs in the team and has often shone when called upon with Mikel Arteta's door-bolt system minimising his flaws.

The Italian midfielder is a cool, experienced head that was primarily used to manage and see out contests in 2023/24 following the addition of Declan Rice. However, during his first six months at the club, Jorginho churned out big moments (late effort vs Aston Villa at Villa Park), and excellent big-game performances (vs Man City at the Emirates, and Newcastle at St. James' Park).

He's proven himself to be more than a mere stop-gap, although it seems as if his role will be minimised for the 2024/25 campaign and beyond.